Beware companies charging for military records

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The Montana Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and Montana National Guard want to alert consumers regarding the accessibility of military records free of charge for service members and their families.

Over the course of their lives, service members and veterans may need to request records of their military service. “Whether it’s for a job preference, a home loan, or to receive certain benefits, military consumers may be asked to produce records detailing their service or discharge status,” Attorney General Tim Fox said. “Military consumers need to know these records are free to request, and cost nothing to acquire from the government,” Fox added.

Recently, the Montana Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Montana Army National Guard have been made aware of several companies who charge a fee to procure military personnel records, especially the DD214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). They claim to be “expeditors” who can speed up the process of acquiring your documents. Their advertisements show up on searches like: “How to get discharge papers” and “How do I get my DD214?” As a result, service members have been led to believe these services are the primary, or only way, to get those documents. However, they can be requested quickly and for no cost by submitting the forms yourself, either online or via mail.

“The Montana National Guard is committed to serving its current members and veterans with the support and respect they deserve,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Quinn, the Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard. “Service members shouldn’t have to pay for something that they earned.”

While service members and veterans are free to choose how they want to obtain their own records, they should be fully educated about their options. Many military service records are available for free through the milConnect website. The DD214 can also be acquired by mailing or faxing a Standard Form “SF 180” to the National Personnel Records Center or the servicing personnel office, such as the Montana Army National Guard G1 Retirement Services Office, which can be reached at 406-324-3084. Detailed instructions on how to request your service records are available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website: https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/.

Both the Montana Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Montana National Guard offer educational tips on their websites about the availability of free military records for service members, veterans, and their families. Additionally, these individuals are invited to call the Office of Consumer Protection in Helena at 1-800-481-6896 with any questions about businesses advertising DD214 services or how to access milConnect’s record request service.

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